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Bahraini police fire tear gas on thousands of protesters (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Published time: July 20, 2012 22:53
Edited time: July 21, 2012 17:17

Bahraini Shiite Muslim protesters clash with riot police in the village of MusalLah, west of the capital Manama on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)

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Violent clashes erupted in Bahrain as thousands protested the government’s move to limit political marches. Police used tear gas and, reportedly, rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, which responded with firebombs.

Police were using tear gas against the crowds rallying in the Bahraini capital Manama and several other places, as the protests continued into the night.­

Demonstrations were aslo held in the villages of Diraz, Bilad al-Qadeem, and Musalla, where protesters called for the ouster of the royal al-Khalifa family. At least one protester was reportedly injured by riot police in Musalla.

The ruling elite want to ban anti-government marches to prevent the disruption to traffic and curb street violence, as at least 50 people have been killed in the country since February 2011.

The opposition described the move as a new attempt by the monarchy to silence it.

The kingdom has been engulfed by more than 17 months of clashes between the Sunni monarchy and kingdom's Shiite majority protesters, who claim systematic discrimination.

The insurrection was originally crushed during a period of martial law, but unrest has continued with repeated clashes between riot police and youths who say the monarchy marginalizes them.

Sayed Hadi al-Mosawi, a member of the opposition who participated in the protests, told RT that Bahraini security forces are deliberately targeting protesters for killing.

“Anyone who is trying to participate in a protest in Bahrain could be in danger, because the riot police forces, they don’t care about people’s lives and they don’t even care of how they treat [the protesters],” he said. “They don’t just prevent you or warn you, they shoot at your body.”

Al-Mosawi says that the government is trying to completely strip people of their freedom of expression.

“They know very well that our protests and our marchers and gatherings are totally peaceful,” he said. “They know that thousands of people come to our protests and they come peacefully, participate peacefully and leave peacefully.”

(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
(AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh)
An anti-government protester runs for cover from tear-gas fired by riot police during an anti-government protest in the village of Jidhafs, west of Manama, July 20, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
An anti-government protester runs for cover from tear-gas fired by riot police during an anti-government protest in the village of Jidhafs, west of Manama, July 20, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
(Reuters / Stringer)
(Reuters / Stringer)